Lousy NZ drivers blamed for high death toll

The country is filled with "lousy drivers" who have not been taught the rules of the road properly, says the editor of New Zealand Driver magazine.

Allan Dick's comments follow another tragic weekend on the roads with eight people dead.

He said there needed to be a new approach to training young drivers.

"We continue to take a punitive response to road crashes," he told Radio New Zealand.

He pointed to Germany's autobahn where there was no speed limit but about half the road toll deaths per capita compared with New Zealand.

"We simply don't educate drivers. The requirement to get your licence is minimal - you answer a few questions, the driving test is quite basic - and then you unleash people on the road.

"It's not good enough."

We were a "nation of lousy drivers", he said.

Mr Dick told nzherald.co.nz Kiwi drivers followed too closely, didn't drive to conditions and had no manners.

"Remember a couple of years ago, when the English rugby team toured the country? The Barmy Army came and rented every single campervan in the country. There was a flotilla of these campervans going up and down the country.

"You knew they were being driven by English people because they knew how to behave on motorways. They didn't make a bee-line for the outside lane on motorways and they signalled before changing lanes," Mr Dick said.

He said there was a spirit of competition in New Zealand. Drivers headed to the outside lane and didn't want anyone to pass them.

"In this country there's a desperation for argument. You mouth obscenities at the person and give them the fingers," Mr Dick said.

He said getting on to the road was too easy in New Zealand and the whole licensing system needed a shake up.

Automobile Association general manager Mike Noon said tougher driving tests, a longer learning licence period and what he called "attitudinal training" were needed at the early stage.

"Make them understand their responsibility and the things that put them at risk."

He said the pass rate for driving tests was at 75 per cent.

"That's too high, we think it's too easy," Mr Noon said.

He said New Zealand government organisations had been slow to act on educating Kiwis on driver etiquette but that was starting to change.

"When New Zealanders drive overseas, they very often comment when they come home about how courteous other drivers are. Other drivers will let you in, whereas in New Zealand, sometimes they don't," Mr Noon said.

He said as a nation of drivers, we needed to be less competitive on the road.

He said tail-gating, speeding off at traffic lights and running amber lights was going to cost drivers in the long run with expensive engine repairs, breaks, tyres and petrol. He said aggressive drivers were more likely to crash and so would also pay more for their insurance.

Dog and Lemon Guide editor Clive Matthew-Wilson said the German transport system was set up around public transport, while New Zealand's focus was on the car.

"The New Zealand system makes the assumption that public transport doesn't exist and that education is not that important and that it's ok to have third world roads. No wonder so many people get killed," Mr Matthew-Wilson said.

He said in Germany, it was not only expensive to get a licence, it took much longer.

Mr Matthew-Wilson said too many people were driving without Warrants of Fitness for their cars, without licences and lowering the drinking age had been a disaster.

Weekend toll

Police today named the man who was killed in a road accident near Motueka early yesterday morning.

He was Gary Allen Johnson, 37, from Motueka, northeast of Nelson.

Sergeant Dale Jenkins said the accident happened on State Highway 60, two kilometres south of Motueka, about 1am.

It was believed Mr Johnson was lying on the southbound lane when he was hit by a vehicle being driven south by a woman.

He was dead when emergency services arrived.

A 25-year-old Korean national was killed when two cars collided on State Highway 2, near Clive, 10km north of Hastings, yesterday.

Sergeant Clint Adamson of Hastings police said the crash happened about 5pm.

The 19-year-old driver and sole occupant of the other car was taken to hospital with severe chest and pelvic injuries.

Mr Adamson said police were still trying to determine which of the vehicles had crossed the centre line.

A woman passenger was killed when the car she was in rolled and she was thrown clear near Dargaville shortly after 1am on Saturday.

Inspector Willie Taylor from the police northern communications centre said the woman died at the scene.

He said no other vehicle was involved and it rolled on a straight section of road.

Nearly 90 minutes later James Andrew Rameka, 17, and Phillip Charles Day, 25, both of Reporoa were killed died at 2.27am when a car hit a power pole on State Highway 5 at Ohaaki near Rotorua.

Sergeant Dave Frazer of Taupo police said a BMW car heading south failed to negotiate a moderate bend and slid into the pole.

Later on Saturday morning two people were killed and another critically injured in a two-car collision at 9.35am on State Highway 73 at Kirwee, 37km west of Christchurch.

The occupants of one car - Roanna Marie Sisson, 30, and her two-year-old daughter Emma Maree Sisson - died at the scene.

Meantime police have named the man who died after a collision with a tourist bus in the Waikato on Saturday afternoon.

He was Simon Blair Marsh, 23, of Wanganui.

Inspector Turepu Keenan of the police northern communications centre said the accident happened on State Highway 27 at Patetonga, 32km northwest of Morrinsville.

Initial indications were Mr Marsh died after the southbound Mazda 323 car he was driving crossed the centre line on a downward section of winding road on SH27.

The car appears to have been on the wrong side of the road when it has collided with a northbound 34-seat Hino bus with 15 Korean tourists on board.

- NZPA

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